Double Whammy: Late Flu Season Meets Early Allergies

By Vickie Frantz, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
2/20/2012 8:20:41 AM

The mild winter temperatures throughout the U.S. may be the reason for the late flu season and the early allergy season.

The above-average temperatures that have allowed more U.S. citizens to spend more time engaging in outdoor activities may have triggered a later-than-usual peak in flu cases.

Cities with the highest temperatures above normal for January.

Fergus Falls, Minn., averaged 11 degrees above normal.

Fargo, N.D., averaged 10.3 degrees above normal.

Brainerd, Minn., averaged 10.2 degrees above normal.

One theory for the delay of the flu season is since people have not been cooped up inside for days or weeks at time due to the cold, the flu virus has not spread from person to person as much as usual.

"Being outside more in the winter has two benefits," said AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "The time in the sunlight can boost the level of vitamin D a person takes in and the fresh outdoor air is less likely to spread flu germs."

Vitamin D is able to boost a person's immune system, helping to fight off illnesses such as the flu.

While the above-average temperatures have been a blessing when it comes to the flu, allergy sufferers may not be feeling healthy at all.

The warm winter temperatures have allowed some flowers and trees to begin blooming and budding early. The early onset of the growth cycle has plants releasing pollen into the air earlier than usual.

The pollen may even stick around longer if the spring is rainy. The rain will benefit the flowers and the blooms could be around longer than usual. This will release even more pollen into the air.

Take some time to enjoy the early blooming flowers this winter, just keep a tissue handy.